One World Projects – Gourd Ornaments

Fair trade importer of Christmas ornaments supports artisans from Peru.

One World Projects is a fair trade importer and distributor that imports handmade Christmas ornaments from over 100 artisan groups in more than 25 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Established in 1992, OWP helps to provide viable economic alternatives for artisans and their families while addressing pressing global issues. The company works with artists to create holiday ornaments such as the gourd ornaments produced in Peru.

Gourds are closely related to pumpkins, squash and cucumbers, and are a variety of shapes and sizes. They make a wonderful canvas for creating beautiful ornaments. Historically, the people of the Andes used gourds for storing food and for drinking chicha and yerba mata. The tradition of carving and burning detailed designs into the gourds to illustrate aspects of their culture dates back more than 3000 years and the designs of the ornaments reflect these centuries of workmanship.

Gourd vessels were elaborately etched with scenes that told stories – the latest news or ancient legends. The decorated vessels were used locally but also to carry messages between regions. Now, the only area where this tradition survives is in the twin villages of Cocha Chicas and Cochas Grandes, a short drive from the city of Huancayo. Today, the Peruvian gourd ornaments are an excellent natural and sustainable way to decorate your Christmas tree and home with holiday ornaments.

Gourds are grown in a variety of sizes, so ornaments artisans usually contract with growers for a certain approximate size in the October sowing season. The gourds are ready to be worked into ornaments the following June. Before being made into ornaments, the gourds are smooth on the outside and velvety on the inside. The sun-dried gourd is trimmed and washed, readying it for ornament decoration.

The ornamental decorations are carved, etched and burned into the gourd. Sometimes, they are only burned or “toasted”, making a design with softer edges than those with carved or etched designs. After a gourd is decorated, it is washed again, and then dried further in a kiln or over a flame. Sometimes a gourd ornament is further decorated by being rewashed and finished.

These fairly traded gourd ornaments support Peruvian artisans and can make a social and environmental statement in your household. See these handcrafted ornaments and more ethnic ornaments on Ornaments.com.

Article and images used with permission from OneWorldProjects.com

Who’s Tatting Now?

Laura Blanton says that tatting is not an obsession. It is a way of life.

Although both of her grandmothers tatted, Laura didn’t learn to tat ornaments until 9 years ago. She spent the first 49 years of her life not tatting. She learned how to do everything else her grandmothers did, but somehow tatting didn’t come up. About 1998, she started asking her dad’s mother to teach her to tat. Her grandmother just wouldn’t slow down enough for Laura to see what she was actually doing. Laura describes herself as stubborn and determined to learn to tat on her own. With the right book, website, or video and enough determination, she says it can be done. Now she takes tatting with her everywhere and loves to share about tatting ornaments. When someone inquires, “what are you doing?” or “are you tatting?” that gives her the perfect opportunity to SLOW DOWN and show them. She gives them her card and offers her assistance in learning.

Laura’s favorite tatting project is snowflakes ornaments for her white Christmas tree. She calls it her Rainbow Christmas Tree as the majority of her snowflakes ornaments are brightly colored. You can see endless sources to patterns and resources for tatting on Laura’s blog, LaurasMuse.blogspot.com.

Laura was kind enough to share these links with us about the tatters around the world who are creating beautiful tatted ornaments.

Learn to tat ornaments on Sharon’sTatting Blog. Sharon has several very good links for learning to tat ornaments. There are also tutorials and ornaments patterns.

If you aren’t quite ready to learn to tat, you can purchase tatted ornaments at Lady Shuttle Maker’sTatting Blog or Yarnplayer’sTatting Blog, where you will find lovely tatted ornaments, hand dyed thread and tatting books.

Learn more about the history of tatting from Dan Rusch-Fischer or Dale Pomeroy who are well informed tatting historians. They can also put you in touch with more tatting history links.

Laura Blanton modestly says that she is by no means the best ornaments tatter in the world, although she has tatters all over the world that follow her tatting blog. Apparently there is a whole community of tatters which makes up a helpful, friendly bunch of men and women who are very willing to answer questions for the novice ornament tatter. Their enthusiasm is contagious and the art of tatting ornaments is becoming more popular daily. Be sure to follow Laura’s Blog for more tatted ornaments ideas.

Article and images used with permission from LaurasMuse.blogspot.com

How to Organize your Christmas Ornaments

When it comes to Christmas tree ornaments, everyone’s a collector.

Everyone’s ornaments are priceless, whether they are costly designer ornaments, assorted antiques inherited from Grandmother, or precious creations made ages ago by your kindergartner. All of them need protection and storage options abound.

Avid collectors of rare antique ornaments and costly commemoratives are careful to store their treasures in museum-like environments. Special acid-free boxes with humidity and temperature indicators maintain these investments in mint condition.

Most people find that the moderately priced ornament boxes on the market today are the most practical alternative. Made of colorful cardboard, these boxes come ready to assemble at home. One sort has a removable lid and several layers of cardboard dividers. Because one layer is stacked on top of another, you have to disassemble an entire layer or two to get to the next, a messy proposition at best.

Most convenient to use is the chest-of-drawer style cardboard box with individual drawers that can be removed without disturbing the other layers. Each drawer has dividers to keep ornaments from shifting and breaking. The best design has several shallow drawers that hold one layer of ornaments in each drawer rather than two or three deep drawers. The advantage here is that you can carry the entire drawer around with you as you place the ornaments on the tree or lift them off to put them away. With convenient handles, these boxes are available at OrnamentBox.com.

Article by Mary Theobald & used with permission from OrnamentBox.com

How To Care for your Best Ornaments

The staff at Ornament-Trees.com have years of experience with ornaments of all types and they offer several steps for safeguarding your finest ornaments. They also have clever ideas for displaying your ornaments.

Be cautious when cleaning hollow glass, porcelain or crystal Christmas ornaments, drops or garlands and be especially gentle if the surface of your ornament is hand painted or decorated with glitter. Always use a soft, natural hair brush for cleaning your ornaments. Look for sable, ox or squirrel hair artist brushes in the filbert, hake, oval wash or square wash shapes at your local artist supply store or at a reputable artist supply store on line. Never use water, soap, solvents, liquid or anything wet of any kind on hand painted or glittered ornaments. Glass/ porcelain/ crystal ornaments with a plain, smooth or undecorated surface can be cleaned with a clean, soft dry lint-free cloth. Since most collectible glass or porcelain ornaments are delicate, avoid handling them excessively. Set them down on a soft, well-padded surface to clean. Handle the pieces carefully and do not squeeze the body of the ornament when you hold it for cleaning. Otherwise, you could break it. A cylindrical ornament stand (such as an egg, sphere or paperweight stand) will be helpful for holding your ornament steady while you are cleaning it.

What does acid free or archival quality paper mean? Use the glossary at Ornament-Trees.com to find out about these terms and more.

Solid glass ornaments, crystal drops, glass bead or porcelain garlands can be cleaned with a soft cloth moistened by a few drops of a good quality, gentle glass cleaner without solvents. A one/three parts mixture of white vinegar and water will also work but could damage the brass connectors between the garland beads. Solid crystal, glass or porcelain ornaments are less susceptible to contact breakage but, should still be handled carefully. Set them down on a soft, well-padded surface to clean. A cylindrical stand (such as an egg, sphere or paperweight stand) will be helpful for holding ornaments steady while cleaning. Plastic cleaning gloves with roughened finger tips will give you a better grip on the item and stop a glass/crystal garland from slipping through your fingers (onto the floor!) They’ll also prevent unwanted fingerprints on the surface of a cleaned crystal ornament or garland.

Excerpted with permission from Ornament-Trees.com